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Re: Font license recommendation

At 01.14 +0200 2002-07-29, Thomas Bushnell, BSG wrote:
>Some document formats include programmatic fonts in the document.

This is indeed the custom for PS and PDF, yes. Furthermore I'm afraid this
is how the font would normally be used.

>I think here the question is whether the combination is font-program
>plus text is a single program or not.  This comes up if the license
>you want is the GPL.  It would be bizarre in the extreme, it seems to
>me, to regard the combination as a single program (at least, assuming
>you don't massively intertwine them).  I think this would be a matter
>of mere aggregation.

PDF files are mainly data, but it quite reasonable to think of a PS file as
a program (a program that tells the printer to draw the thing you want to
print). In fact, PS files are often more program-like than PS Type 1 fonts

The problem with GPL'ing is that anyone who recieves a PS file using a
GPL'ed font could then claim that the PS file in its entirety must be
GPL'ed and thus request to get the (.tex or similar) sources for the PS
file, since these would be "the preferred form for making modifications".

>However, note that if the document format distributes font-programs in
>something other than source, and you want to use the GPL, you need to
>make sure the source gets sent along with the font-program somehow.
>(Perhaps the document format has some kind of comment syntax where you
>could stash it.)

It could in principle be included as comments, but that would look truly
bizarre. Another reason not to use GPL, then!

At 15.25 +0200 2002-07-29, Henning Makholm wrote:
>Scripsit Boris Veytsman <borisv@lk.net>
>> It seems that you consider the inclusion of fonts to be the same as
>> linking of libraries. Then LGPL might be what you need.
>The LGPL's rule would mean that it would be forbidden to distribute
>compound works "linked" in such a way that the font cannot be changed
>independently of the rest of the contents. In some jurisdiction this
>might prevent the production of hardcopy documents using the typeface.

This sounds strange. Isn't the hardcopy rather output from the program?

>It would be better to give an explicit permission to use the font
>freely in documents. The case is so special that it is not advisable
>to rely on analogies with software.

You mean I could say something like

  This font is free software; you can redistribute it and/or
  modify it under the terms of the GNU Lesser General Public
  License ...
  Furthermore the font can be included in documents without
  any additional restriction.

? I suspect the wording in that "furthermore" clause could be tricky
however. Verbatim copying is too restrictive, since fonts are commonly
subsetted as part of the inclusion process.

>With such an explicit permission, the GPL would seem to be suitable -
>the metafont (or whatever) source could play the role of .. well,
>"source", and bitmapped renderings or translations into write-only
>formats (postscript type 1??) would count as "binaries".

The latter of these, yes. Bitmaps are generally deprecated these days.

>Of course, depending on one's personal preferences, a BSD style
>license could do the job, too.

BSD style licenses doesn't seem to require that the source is made
available. That it should be available was my main reason not to simply
choose public domain.

Lars Hellström

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